In yet another boneheaded decision by a local band, the formerly brilliantly named Mr. Spectacular have officially and rather unfortunately changed their name to Fivehundred, which, in my opinion, is meaningless and utterly forgetable, quite unlike the band formerly known as Mr. Spectacular. For their sake, let's hope they make their upcoming South By Southwset appearance as Mr. Spectacular, the band the SXSW folks are expecting. Congratulations, guys. And shame on you. ... The New Mexico Symphony Orchestra, who are not considering a name change, will host their first-ever media auction on Thursday, Feb. 12, at the NMSO offices at 4407 Menaul NE. Attendees will have the opportunity to cast their bids on more than 50 lots, including valuable advertising packages from many of Albuquerque's top media outlets. KKOB-AM afternoon windbag Jim Villanucci will provide stand-up comedy, while members of the NMSO will provide music during the event. All proceeds from the auction will benefit NMSO's youth education programs. Tickets are $20. Call 881-8999 for more information. ... If I don't mention the following this week, Mary B will hunt me down and kill me: Mary B and her parent company, 89.9-FM KUNM, will present Texas polka legends Brave Combo for the 713th time on Friday, Feb. 27, at the Paramount in Santa Fe, and for the 714th time on Saturday, Feb. 28, at the Sunshine Theater. Stay tuned to future issues for a full preview of these Polish-friendly events.
Thanks to its unforgettable opening melody, which invariably insinuates its way into the heart, Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto has earned a deservedly permanent place in the repertoire. Arcadi Volodos' rendition of the concerto is the third to arrive from a major label in the past few months. As with the other two, the first featuring Lang Lang backed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Daniel Barenboim (Universal Classics), the other showcasing 2001's Eleventh Van Cliburn International Piano Competition winner Olga Kern and the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and Christopher Seaman (Harmonia Mundi), the recording is available as an SACD-hybrid multi-channel disc.
Thursday, Feb. 19; Sunshine Theater (all ages, 7 p.m.): Somewhere between Quicksand's post-hardcore fury, Social Distortion's three-chord Californicated version of the Ramones' classic sound and At the Drive In's clear-cut emo, you'll find the Hot Water Music sound. Sure, tons of other comparisons can be drawn (Burning Airlines, late-era Helmet, the entire stable of Dischord bands circa 1989, and so on), but the only thing you really need to know is that of all the bands currently treading emo's ever quaking, never-quite-solid ground, Hot Water Music tread the lightest and with the biggest stick. Their various and wide range of influences are pressure cooked within the confines of Chuck Ragan and Chris Wollard's twin guitar/lead vocal blast furnace, then simmered into thick post-punk riffs and near-anthemic choruses.
Tuesday, Feb. 17; Kiva Auditorium (Albuquerque Convention Center, all ages, 7:30 p.m.): Laugh out loud all you want, but Albuquerque is nothing if not a classic rock town. At one time in the not-so-distant past, our city boasted the most classic rock radio stations in the entire Western United States. And they all thrived, right up until those two companies bought up all the radio stations in the Western United States.
Tuesday, Feb. 17; Stella Blue (21 and over, 9 p.m.): In the spirit of not letting dead Garcias lie, the Dark Star Orchestra tour the country presenting excruciatingly detailed reenactments of Grateful Dead shows, set list for set list, song for song, concert for concert. Going far beyond the realm of most "tribute" bands, the Dark Star Orchestra recreate specific Dead shows given on specific dates, which they keep secret until the encore of each show. They even go so far as to present the shows using replicas of the instruments the Dead used for the original performances. The audience, some of whom may have seen the Dead show to be played out once again, can get clues as to the date of the original show by checking mic number and placement, keyboard setup, guitar and bass varieties, etc., assuming that attending Grateful Dead shows has been their life's work. A Dark Star Orchestra show is just like being dead all over again.
Puddle of Mudd are like the book-learners you went to high school with: They studied Nirvana and the grunge movement with precision only to come away with a sterile knowledge of the music but no feel for its underlying soul. They're moderately effective emulators, but there's nary an original idea in their collective head. Life on Display is a bland, repetitive exercise in music that meant something a dozen years ago. Bereft of hooks or exemplary songwriting, it falls flat on its face in its first seconds and doesn't bother to struggle to its feet. Frat dicks will love it.